TELEVISION STAR MARIO LOPEZ BRINGS HIS PASSION FOR MMA AND POPULAR APPEAL TO EliteXC TELECASTS ON SHOWTIME
Debut Telecast Featuring Explosive Match Up–Frank Shamrock and Renzo Gracie–
Airs LIVE From DeSoto County Civic Center in Southaven , Miss.
Feb. 10 On SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast)
LOS ANGELES (February 7, 2007) — In December 2006, Mario Lopez was named Roving Reporter for the new mixed martial arts phenomenon EliteXC telecasts on SHOWTIME. But do not let his striking looks and swift dance moves fool you because Mario Lopez is a fighter at heart. While he may be famous for his roles behind the camera and on the dance floor, the former Saved by the Bell star and runner up on the ABC smash series, Dancing with the Stars, has some surprising moves in the ring as well.
“I actually consider myself an athlete and a fighter first before being a host and an actor,” said Lopez, who will serve as roving reporter alongside color analyst Bill Goldberg for the history-making debut of EliteXC mixed martial arts (MMA) fight card airing live on SHOWTIME Saturday, Feb. 10, at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). The telecast will feature five explosive bouts headlined by a battle between two MMA pioneers, Frank Shamrock and Renzo Gracie.
Lopez, a San Diego , Calif. , native, wrestled at Chula Vista High School , and always has loved martial arts and full contact sports. He currently trains in boxing and jiu-jitsu at Freddy Roach’s world-renowned Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles , and recently scored several knockouts in amateur boxing bouts.
Reporting in the arena on EliteXC telecasts will come naturally for the lifelong wrestler. In addition to hosting the weekend edition of syndicated entertainment news show EXTRA, and appearing on a multitude of cable television shows, Lopez has served as color commentator for more than 15 boxing broadcasts on HBO Latino and HBO International.
Lopez, who recently completed stints on FX Network’s Nip/Tuck and can soon be seen on ABC’s George Lopez, is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with one of the fastest growing American sports.
“I am very excited to be a part of this event, and I am ecstatic that SHOWTIME has given me this opportunity,” Lopez said.
The relationship between one of television and film’s fastest rising stars and MMA is a natural fit. Lopez became interested in the sport upon its arrival in the early 1990s. He has followed the evolution of MMA and witnessed the change in fighting styles over the years.
“When MMA came on the scene, it was originally about pinning different styles against each other and seeing which style dominated,” he said. “Wrestlers always won, so I loved it. Now, it has evolved to the point where all the key athletes have extensive wrestling backgrounds.”
Since its grassroots beginning, MMA has grown exponentially. According to Lopez, it has gained the respect and interest of mainstream America .
“I am just amazed how popular MMA has become and how quickly it has gone from an underground sport to capture the American public’s fascination,” he said. “If you go to these fights, you can sit next to a doctor, a couple on a date or a guy with his kids.”
Lopez also recognizes that the sport has unlimited growth potential, especially with the recent collaboration between EliteXC and SHOWTIME to televise several events each year on the premium channel.
“MMA has broad appeal,” Lopez said. “People really respect the athletes and love the spectacle of the sport. I think it can be spoken in the same sentence as the big sports, such as football, baseball and basketball.”
In its short history, MMA also has had a lot of success with women, which does not surprise Lopez.
“I think women get a kick out of seeing guys fight,” Lopez said. “But, at the same time, they respect the sport. There is something very appealing about world-class athletes at their best competing against one another.”
According to Lopez, MMA has been successful due to its appeal to a younger demographic. He believes that SHOWTIME will further advance the popularity of MMA because of the network’s reputation for televising great boxing match ups and its ability to reach large audiences.
With his vast knowledge of boxing, martial arts and wrestling, Lopez is the ideal candidate to join forces with EliteXC for the first live telecast of MMA on SHOWTIME.
“I am just thrilled to be part of the team,” Lopez said. “I would probably be at these fights anyway. Now, I am just going to have a better seat and get paid for it.”
About ProElite, Inc.
ProElite, Inc. is an entertainment and media company dedicated to producing world-class sporting events and empowering the participation of athletes and enthusiasts. ProElite, Inc. fosters the growth of the core principles of competition – Pride, Spirit, Honor and Sportsmanship. ProElite, Inc. owns the following brands and companies: EliteXCTM (mixed martial arts live event production), ProElite.com (online community that provides content and tools for martial arts enthusiasts), and LifeLogger (top-rated Internet blogging site and mobile application developer).
About Showtime Networks Inc.
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL and FLIX, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME TOO, SHOWTIME SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME, SHOWTIME BEYOND, SHOWTIME NEXT, SHOWTIME WOMEN, SHOWTIME FAMILYZONE and TMC XTRA. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD, THE MOVIE CHANNEL HD, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND and THE MOVIE CHANNEL ON DEMAND. SNI is also an owner and manager of SUNDANCE CHANNEL, a venture of NBC Universal, Robert Redford and SNI. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution. All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV.